By Chris King
Dineo Khabele, MD is the first Black department chair, ever, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, which was founded in 1891. She serves as the Mitchell & Elaine Yanow Professor and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the medical school.
She joined Washington University in June 2020 from the University of Kansas School of Medicine, where she was a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and of cancer biology, director of the Division of Gynecological Oncology, and vice chair for research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Gynecologic Oncology.
Dr. Khabele’s ovarian cancer research is funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute. Her ovarian cancer research interests include chemotherapy resistance, DNA repair, epigenetic targets for therapy, and targeting the tumor microenvironment. She also is an outspoken researcher and critic of racism in the medical field and the profession’s failures in training, recruiting and retaining diverse medical professionals, particularly in elite subspecialties such as her own.
Dr. Khabele obtained undergraduate and medical degrees from Columbia College and Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University in New York. She completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at The New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill-Cornell University Medical Center, followed by a clinical fellowship in gynecologic oncology and post-doctoral research training in cancer biology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center. She was a scholar of the Reproductive Scientist Development Program and the Amos Medical Faculty Development Program Scholar/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The St. Louis American spoke to her about her work as an administrator, researcher and clinician and how she is trying to get the hang of St. Louis, having moved here during the COVID pandemic and its socially isolating protocols.
The St. Louis American: What is new and upcoming with the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine?
Dineo Khabele, MD: We are really excited that our obstetrics and gynecology specialty at Barnes-Jewish Hospital is ranked #3 in the country by US News and World Report. This speaks to the incredible talent, dedication and expertise of our teams at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. We are continuing to recruit to support our mission to deliver exceptional clinical care, cutting-edge research, and innovative educational programs. I am honored to lead our teams who have done incredible work while meeting the challenges of persistent COVID surges, financial set-backs, and staff shortages.
The St. Louis American: In recruiting, what are your methods and how is diversity integrated in your recruiting efforts?